Death at the Plague Museum A Health of Strangers Thriller By Lesley Kelly Rated:****
About the Author
Lesley Kelly has worked in the public and voluntary sectors for the past 20 years, dabbling in poetry and stand-up comedy along the way. She has won several writing competitions, including the Scotsman’s Short Story Award in 2008. Her debut novel: A Fine House in Trinity, was long listed for the William McIlvanney award in 2016. She can be followed on Twitter @lkauthor where she tweets about writing, Edinburgh and whatever else takes her fancy.
“If word gets out they’re going crazy, there’s going to be bloodshed” The pandemic is spreading. On Friday three civil servants leading Virus policy hold a secret meeting at the Museum of Plagues and Pandemics. By Monday, two are dead and one is missing. It’s up to Mona and Bernard of the Health Enforcement Team to find the missing official before panic hits the streets.
I would, before I begin my review, to thank Lesley Kelly for the packet of sweets to go along with this book.
The book is split into 5 parts for the days of the week, plus titles. From the outset there’s a death being investigated in the Edinburgh Museum of Plagues and Pandemics. Think work might just about be okay to go to on a Monday? Think again… There’s an air of something mysterious going on and Nathan McVie is dead..
The book, even though there’s a death early on at the Plague Museum, has some humour within it. I happen to like books with a bit of humour, even if the subject matter may be dark. The humour is well-placed and is sensible enough.
The book is at a good pace and would draw any reader in. It’s also modern and very “up to the minute” with the way people using social media, especially Twitter seem to find and comment on things instantly, and the way details of events are up there quicker than one could possibly imagine. Other issues are also highlighted, such as the constant threat of library closures and how people need to use them. I like that Mona has to use the library to do some research and I like that there’s not some romaticised idea that they will be around forever, regardless of whether they are used or not. I speak from experience of a council giving up on a few libraries as I have been heavily involved in creating a community library and now also running it, using every librarian skill I have gained by working in several of them over many years. It is thanks to authors such as Lesley Kelly who have supplied us with new books too, that we have a great book stock. Back to the rest of the book…
The story goes on, turning up the tension about what really happened to Mr McVie and wondering where Sopel as she is missing and also missed a health check all staff get. The modern real possibilities of Twitter mobs are warned of well, within this book. It reflects our modern times and perhaps in ways that may make people think about how they use online sharing platforms such as social media in all its current forms.
There’s a mysterious death, or was it murder? There’s also a bomb threat. Enter the Plague Museum at your own risk and enjoy!!!
*I thank Lesley Kelly for sending me a copy in advance of the publishing date of 18th April to review. I also thank her for sending me books of this series for a community library I have set up.
The review is my own views and by no way was I influenced by what I wrote by the author or any other person by my review.
I am pleased to say that it is my turn to be on the Blog Tour with an advanced copy of Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan. The book is published and released to the public on the 25th April. So it’s one you may like to look out for then or pre-order.
Writer, Lizzie Lemalf, and her loving but somewhat dysfunctional family are still grieving over the loss of a much-loved family member. Lizzie is doing her best to keep her family together but why does the recent death of a well-known celebrity have them all in a spin? The police suspect foul play; Lizzie and other family members suspect one another. Lizzie begins searching for answers only to find herself being dragged back to the past, to 1960’s London to be exact, and to the former life of her father, that up until now she has never been privy to. Every family has its secrets but how can the past hold the key to a present day celebrity death?
They say the past comes back to haunt you. Surely the truth will out? Maybe, but only time will tell…
This book spans across the years of 1945, 1965 and 1971 to present day. I find my attention grabbed in an instant on that first page. I wasn’t expecting it, but it is a great opener. Already there are questions forming in my head. Who is the protagonist and why has the person ended up in a certain place? Then, enter chapter one, which takes readers right to the present day. It begins with a death announcement on the news and social media. Already I want to know more about this person. So, already there’s a bit of a mystery as to who killed this celebrity character.
There are themes of family bonds and ties throughout that are strong, so the book isn’t all just about the death of a celebrity. There’s romance and poignancy within this book as well as some humour and a look into family dynamics.
There is much going on and a lot of substance and depth and many emotions within this book as a lot happens to the characters between the ages that it goes between. It is well written and although it flicks through a number of different times, it works rather well and creates an interesting story, although, unusually for me, I had to really concentrate on the time changes, especially at the very beginning. The eras themselves were captured well and there was certainly plenty going on in the 60’s.
There are three books featuring Lizzie and her family, this was the first one I read and it was indeed enjoyable and is well plotted and it felt like the author was invested in the characters, which I felt were thought out in a good way. I would however say that, from my point of view anyway, that they are possibly best read from the beginning to get more of the gist of this family, although to read it as a stand-alone works not too shabbily.
About the Author
Eva Jordan is a published writer of several short stories and Time Will Tell is her third novel. Eva lives in a small town in Cambridgeshire with partner Steve and three of our four children, who are a constant source of inspiration – they are all teenagers, need I say more! Eva’s career has been varied, including working in a Women’s Refuge and more recently at the city library. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her true passion.
Title:Time Will Tell Author:Eva Jordan Publisher:Urbane Publications ISBN: 9781911583943 Category:Women’s Fiction, Romance Pages:288
Today I am pleased to be part of the Love Books Group Tour presenting “Hunter’s Chase” by Val Penny who has also gained accolades on this book such as “up there with Ian Rankin”.
Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.
DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.
Hunter’s Chase is a police procedural crime novel. It is set in Edinburgh, Scotland in November 2012. It is character driven. The central character is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson. He must discover why three people in his city have been killed and who is responsible for those three deaths.
The first body has been dead for a few days before it is discovered. The cause of death and the identity of the victim (Mary-Ann Johnson) are both unknown. Hunter sees the second murder take place, when the victim is mown down by a car in a car park. Hunter knows the victim (Billy Hope) but cannot identify the killer and cannot recall crucial details correctly. The third victim’s attack is also witnessed by neighbours but everybody seems to have seen different things. The victim (Annie Johnson) is not carrying any means of identification.
Central to Hunter’s investigations are three young men and their fathers: DCTim Myerscough and former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough, petty thief Jamie Thomson and Ian Thomson who is presently incarcerated, and lastly loved up Frankie Hope and loan shark former councillor and Billy Hope.
The reader first meets Jamie Thomson who is carrying on his family business and breaking into a house in fine areas of the city. On this occasion he breaks into the house of Sir Peter Myerscough. Sir Peter is now the Justice Secretary in the Scottish Government. Sir Peter gives chase and catches Jamie after he trips over a corpse in the grounds of a local golf course. Sir Peter calls the police and the team is led by DI Hunter Wilson.
The next characters introduced are Annie Johnson, her parents, Mary-Ann Johnson and JoeJohnson and her boyfriend, Frankie Hope. Annie is a pretty girl who is pregnant by Frankie, a gentle young man. Annie’s mother knows about the pregnancy and has undertaken to tell Joe. It is clear, Mary-Ann has a secret that she had to confess to Joe. Mary-Ann had an affair with Frankie’s father, Billy Hope. Annie and Frankie are half siblings. Frankie’s mother Edna Hope is Jamie’s aunt.
Edna meets with Arjun Mansoor, the man who is running Ian Johnson’s car showroom while he is in jail. They argue. Hunter learns Arjun is found to be importing cocaine in luxury imported cars. Sir Peter Myercough is amongst his cocaine customers. He has been black-mailed and made fraudulent insurance claims to pay.
At first there is no apparent connection between the three attacks which find Mary-Ann dead, see Billy killed in a Tesco car park and Annie fatally injured in a leafy Edinburgh suburb. Annie is kept alive by the hospital trying to save the twins she is carrying. When the pathologist Meera Sharma confirm that Mary-Ann was also hit by a car, before her body was dumped, Hunter’s team believe they have a serial killer.
The victims have all been attacked with cars. One of the cars reported as stolen by Arjun Mansoor, the other belongs to Ian Thomson. Hunter’s main suspects are Joe Johnson, and Arjun Mansoor.
Annie dies after the delivery of her twins. Frankie and Joe attend the hospital and Joe confirms to Frankie that Annie was his half-sister. Frankie names the twins Kylie and Dannii after the Minogue sisters.
Tim is attacked by the car driver after Sir Peter tells his son where he is likely to find Ian Thomson’s car. Tim survives and sees the driver, Edna Hope. His testimony and DNA found in the cars allow Hunter to link her to each of the three deaths. Arjun and Sir Peter are convicted for their crimes.
“Fucking thief! Stop thief! Fuck! Fucking stop!” Sir Peter bellowed into the darkness.
“Yeah, that’ll work,” thought Jamie, as he jumped the wall and tore round the corner. He kept on running, but soon heard puffing behind him and realised his victim was giving chase. He was quick for an old one, Jamie thought, but no real match for Jamie, even in his tight shoes. But Sir Peter was clearly one angry man and wasn’t going to give up that easily. That was bad luck.
Jamie vaulted another fence and legged it across the street. He heard some of his haul hit the ground, but didn’t stop for it. He would still have enough; the bag was heavy. He hoped he hadn’t dropped the Breitling; he fancied that. He leapt over a wall and headed into the rough beside the golf course.
Jamie worked at that golf club courtesy of Sir Peter Myerscough; the irony was not lost on Jamie. He figured he knew the land well enough to make a clean getaway. He had not counted on his victim being home so early. He also had no idea Sir Peter could give chase so well. Unlucky. Oh shit, that old guy was gaining on him! How could he do that? Jamie had to move.
It was more difficult to cross the wooded area around the course in the damp and dark than he had thought it would be with his tight shoes. This damn bag didn’t help; it kept getting caught on branches. He dodged amongst the bushes and behind the trees to avoid his victim, but the old boy just kept coming. He would not give up, but the ground was wet and the leaves on the ground were slippery.
Fuck! Jamie tripped.
His ankle gave a deafening crack that was only drowned out by Jamie’s screams. Must be the root of a tree that tripped him. He could not get up. His ankle would not take his weight; it was buggered. He tried to crawl into the undergrowth. It bloody hurt, and he could not get away. Sir Peter would find him soon now. Jamie could not move but he thought fast. He threw his bag as far as he could, just to get it away from himself. His silk gloves meant there would be no prints. He tried to bury the stuff from his pockets. His ankle was agony. Jamie felt something strange where he dug into the ground, but he had too many other things on his mind to worry too much about that.
The old boy reached him and leaned towards Jamie. Sir Peter, cursing and panting, doubled over balancing on his knees. He yanked back Jamie’s hood and shone his torch into the thief’s eyes. Recognition.
“Jamie Thomson, it’s you! Scum! You broke into my house? Fucking ingrate! You are a thieving rodent. Do you know how hard I argued to get you that job at the golf club? And this is the thanks I get? You pissing rat. I spoke up for you, for rehabilitation; I really fought for you. There are half a dozen decent houses in my street. Why mine?”
“Oh no. Not you, Sir Peter!” Jamie tried to sound surprised. Then his curiosity set in. “So whose house would you have suggested I go to instead? Which one would you rather I’d tried?”
About the Author
Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels.
Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.
It gives me great pleasure to be part of this Cover Reveal and blurb of the book: “Death Will Find Me” by Vanessa Robertson. For an idea of what the book is about, I have also included the blurb included below.
Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.
Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love.
Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?
This book will be perfect for anyone who’s enjoyed the work of Catriona McPherson, Sara Sheridan and Jessica Fellowes.
*As an actor, Robert Daws has appeared in leading roles in a number of award-winning and long-running British television series, including Jeeves and Wooster, Casualty, The House of Eliott, Outside Edge, Roger Roger, Sword of Honour, Take A Girl Like You, Doc Martin, New Tricks, Midsomer Murders, Rock and Chips, The Royal, Death in Paradise, Father Brown and Poldark.
His recent work for the stage includes the national tours of Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions, and David Harrower’s Blackbird. In the West End, he has recently appeared as Dr John Watson in The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, Geoffrey Hammond in Public Property, Jim Hacker in Yes, Prime Minister and John Betjeman in Summoned by Betjeman.
His many BBC radio performances include Arthur Lowe in Dear Arthur, Love John, Ronnie Barker in Goodnight from Him and Chief Inspector Trueman in Trueman and Riley, the long-running police detective series he co-created with writer Brian B Thompson.
Today I am giving you 2 reviews in 1. I don’t normally do 2 reviews together like this, but I read The Rock and The Poisoned Rock back to back and the 2 fit together nicely, although both books can be read as stand-alone too. So, I wanted to tell you about both books together.
The Rock. Gibraltar. 1966.
In a fading colonial house overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar, the dead body of a beautiful woman lays dripping in blood. The steel handle of a knife protrudes from her chest, its sharpened tip buried deep within her heart.
The Rock. Present day.
Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan arrives on The Rock on a three-month secondment from the London Metropolitan Police Service. Her reasons for being here are not happy ones and she braces herself for a tedious and wasteful twelve weeks in the sun.
After all, murders are rare on the small, prosperous and sun-kissed sovereignty of Gibraltar and catching murderers is what Sullivan does best.
It is a talent she shares with her new boss, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick of the Royal Gibraltar Police Force. He’s an old-fashioned cop who regards his new colleague with mild disdain.
But when a young police constable is found hanging from the ceiling of his apartment, Sullivan and Broderick begin to unravel a dark and dangerous secret that will test their skills and working relationship to the limit.
This is the first in this police procedural series. I had not read any of Robert Daws books before now, but having recently met him, I thought I would give them a go and from the beginning of the series. It is worth it! This first book is a novella, which is nice and different. It is shorter than an average sized book, but is a great introduction to Gibraltar and his characters, still containing an air of mystery and intrigue within the pages. The second in the series, which we will get onto shortly is more novel in size. Either way, they are both well-written and holds attention well.
The series is set in Gibraltar and this particular one begins in 1966. From the outset, the scene is set and rather well. It’s all very mysterious before the first chapter has even begun. The book then swings forward to the present day. It begins with familiar territory which Tamara Sullivan, a private investigator has to endure before taking off on the plane to Gibraltar. Readers will discover that it was never her intention to head to Gibraltar to work, but she was forced into a 3 month secondment there.
I would say not to be put off by the different timelines because they are skillfully written in such a manner that is far from confusing.
The scenery of Gibraltar is beautifully described. Robert Daws has clearly used all his knowledge of the Rock, which he has spent much time on, very well to capture interest in the place as well as the imagination.
Very quickly the story moves onto an intruder on a yacht. It makes for a fast-paced book.
The working relationship between Calbot and Sullivan and Broderick and Sullivan is quickly established and makes for a good read. Sullivan is a woman who can certainly stand up for herself when necessary and make her point, but in a likeable way.
Chief Superintendent C.S. Harriet Massetti and PC Bryant also make up the team of investigators and readers also get a good flavour of their personalities when they are introduced into the book.
The story later, transports readers to 5 months earlier in England. This works rather well in telling what actually happened to Sullivan and why she was seconded to Gibraltar instead of staying at the London MET where she could further her career in the city. It gives further establishment of her personality and how she does go off on a limb at times.
Martin Taveres is a character readers will feel the full force of emotion from due to the death of his loved as it so sensitively and skillfully written.
Later on readers return to 1966. It works and fits in well. The attitudes are realistic and it creates for a good and interesting back story to what was read in the present day.
The style of writing is distinctive and different from many other books, but I like it. I think it works and different and individual writing styles can only be a good thing and not something to be put off by.
For a quick read, this book does just the job. It is written well and has enough setting and drama within it, as well as good characterisation. It made me decide it was worthwhile investing the time to read more of this series.
Please continue reading onwards to discover the second book in this series.
______________________________ The Poisoned Rock By Robert Daws Rating: 5 Stars *****
With only five weeks to go before the end of her secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, D.S. Tamara Sullivan is enjoying life on the Rock. With one murder investigation successfully under their belts, Sullivan and her commanding officer, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, settle down to regular police work under the sunny Mediterranean skies.
In London, the British Government has declassified a large number of top-secret files regarding British Military Intelligence operations during World War Two. One file, concerning espionage operations on Gibraltar, has been smuggled out of the U.K. to Spain. It contains information that will draw Sullivan and Broderick into the dark and treacherous world of wartime Gibraltar. A place where saboteurs and espionage plots abounded. Where double and triple agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were at war in a treacherous and deadly game of undercover operations.
As the summer heat reaches its zenith in Gibraltar Town, a film crew has arrived on the Rock to shoot a movie about one of the most enigmatic and legendary spies of the war years – ‘The Queen of Diamonds’. Starring Hollywood A-lister Julia Novacs and produced by local born film maker, Gabriel Isolde, it is the talk of the Rock.
It is only a matter of time before past and present collide and a dangerous battle begins to conceal the truth about the Rock’s poisonous wartime history. Detectives Sullivan and Broderick become caught in a tangled web of intrigue and murder that will once again test their skills and working relationship to the very limit.
The Poisoned Rock begins in 1942. It’s a whole new case within this series. There is a well thought out quote used from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the beginning, which sets the scene up for what’s to come in excellent manner. Both books, although are part of a series, also work well as stand alone books. I would say the writing has improved within this book in terms of the flow of it, especially, but both are worth reading. Again, there is an excellent prologue, setting this scene for the rest of the book and a murder already committed. There’s no having to wait, wondering when the action to begin in these books.
There’s murder, offshore accounts, secrets and jeopardy within the well-written pages of this book.
The book spans seamlessly and effortlessly between the 40’s 60’s and Present day as well as a number of locations. Importantly, it all makes sense and flows easily when reading. It is well-constructed and the time frames are well-stated in each part and they all fit together well within the plot. There are also enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing within this book, which can be read as part of the series or it stands alone pretty well too.
Readers are quick to learn a little about Gibraltar’s Second World War history before being transported to the present day where Tamara Sullivan is still serving out her enforced secondment.
Within this book, there are secrets revealed of British Intelligence and a film crew filming about “The Queen of Diamonds” about a spy in the Second World War. There are creatively crafted twists and turns surrounding this mysterious spy and the film, showing that its mere creation has more to it than meets the eye.
There is much intrigue surrounding the film, creating just about enough tension… just who is the mysterious figure observing screenwriter, Josh Cornwallis? There’s also more than just film action surrounding the film’s producer – Gabriel Isolde. These scenes are written with complete believability, as you can imagine with the acting experience Robert Daws has and whatsmore it adds much to the storyline in a positive way.
The chapters of the book move the story onwards, effortlessly between the film set and the activities of Broderick and Sullivan. Throughout the book, remains an excellently written, sense of place. The more of these books that are read, the more you get a feel of Gibraltar.
This book, also however, also takes readers to a crime committed in Marbella after the victim, Krystle Changtai disappeared from Gibraltar. People who are not all they first seem to be… There is also more than just the glamour of designer dresses and shoes to contend with… adding to the intrigue of this captivating book.
Lech Jasinski is an interesting character who was a Polish soldier, serving in Iraq and we get a sense of his PTSD. There’s also more to him than what can possibly be first presumed. The characterisation of Lech is good, there’s enough written to create a tension and an air of mystery.
It’s not all about murder. Readers are treated to really being able to get to know more about the characters who work for the police service in Gibraltar in terms of their background, which I also enjoyed.
This series was optioned for TV and when reading the books, it is clear that they would be a good “fit” as it were. The chapters are written exquisitely and almost like they could be scenes.
All in all, Robert Daws has created books with mystery, intrigue and an air of beauty in terms of the setting and all fit together very well indeed to create a compelling and very readable series!
These are all the books at time of writing that are within this series. A Rock Ghost Story is completely stand-alone.
*I thank Robert Daws for allowing me to take his photo at the Morecambe and Vice Festival and for kindly allowing me to use it on my blog. Please also note that my reviews are unbiased.
Books: The Rock
The Poisoned Rock
Author: Robert Daws
Publisher: Urbane Publications
Main Purchase Points: Amazon, Waterstones, Independent Bookshops, WH Smith